The Parasite That GamerGate Deserves

“Every normal man must be tempted, at times, to spit on his hands, hoist the black flag, and begin slitting throats.”

H.L. Mencken, Prejudices: First Series

I want to be clear about the intent of this article. It’s essentially a personal attack against a person I find particularly unctuous in a “movement” I find particularly problematic and childish. He’s a dancing weasel with the cunning and morals of a left-handed pimp. First and foremost I wish to lay a small portion of his personal and professional failings bare. For full disclosure’s sake I must admit that I also feel his lifeless, dead-eyed philosophy leads him to repugnant political views. Those nausea inducing political views lead him to write a thinly veiled transphobic attack on Brianna Wu, which was underhanded enough that I feel like it deserves some kind of response.

In further disclosure I must admit that this is not a defense of Miss Wu. I found the article about her full of standard anti-trans and anti-SJW rhetoric. Though framed as a personal expose, it struck me as nothing more than a particularly poisonously toned statement of political difference, a generic piece of boilerplate designed to get heads nodding rather than be revealing. The line about sammiches was actually quite funny, but as with most things Mr. Milo writes it was more about him affirming his own views and alliances than actually saying anything about his proposed subject. If I had his tortured and twisted mix of personal, moral and spiritual feelings I can’t say I’d do much better though.

Let’s get on with it. Out of polite respect I will continue you call him Mr. Milo (or whatever other name strikes my fancy that paragraph).

Let us speak plainly at the beginning. Mr. Milo is a shill seeking a shill-dom. He desperately wants to be the token gay voice of one conservative talking point or another, and his finally plumping for the bottom of the barrel outrage of Gamer Gate is a testament to both his endurance and his utter failure to check the box on any other moral crusade in the Conservative handbook.

He couldn’t even hack it as a gay man arguing against gay marriage, which should have made him a conservative darling. Certainly he was trotted out on a number of talk shows, but when you come up with the shit end of the stick in a debate with Boy George you aren’t going to pull the kind of patronage that a working shill really needs to keep the lights on and the ego inflated. Let’s watch:

At this point the debate over gay marriage has pretty well settled down into well worn rhetorical ruts, so nobody gets any points for original arguments. Mr. Sex Traitor opens by poorly reframing the question, denying that gays care about marriage and then playing the “Cohesive glue of society” card. All well and good, but he then utterly fails to describe what might happen if we let this glue become less cohesive. He can’t come up with a single ridiculous nightmare scenario or consequence. His stammered “There’s no way of knowing,” sets the stakes for the debate at precisely none.

Boy George comes back with what amounts to, “I’d rather be snorting coke and fucking rent boys now and forever, but why shouldn’t gays get married?” (Which actually sort of affirms one of Mr. Milo’s opening points, which he utterly fails to capitalize on.) Mr. Yiannopoulos (I’ll give him the only dignity he’s going to get in this exchange by using his real name this once) is now losing a debate to someone who doesn’t even care that much. The poor boy has the crowd and the host against him, but if a shill can’t win he better at least be able to take a few punches. Mr. Glass Jaw folds at the first tap and spends the rest of the debate darting from convoluted political arguments to convoluted religious arguments, utterly unable to influence the direction of the debate despite Boy George’s insistence that they don’t even really need to be debating and perhaps they could all share some coke and a rent boy or two.

It’s an all around poor showing for an aspiring shill. He clearly hasn’t read any of the background material provided for him with the script, and off script he’s left battling his sexual demons on national television. He’s left shouting embarrassingly into the abyss while Boy George shrugs his shoulders and the crowd laughs along. Perhaps a more seasoned moralizing gay man would have been a better choice, but Mr. Milo’s personal ambition must have convinced him, and his handlers, that he had things well in hand. As with any of his grander schemes things fall apart quickly. His hair turns in a fine performance though, so at least he’s got that going for him.

Clearly not cut out for life in front of a live audience, and therefore unable to obtain a permanent shill position in any of the various decrepit wings of the conservative movement, Sr. Opportunist turned to a pointless addition to the awards show circuit to carry him along. It flopped after a single year. Mr. Black Guts is exactly the type of personality that can gather an echochamber around himself and convince others to back some venture or other. Unfortunately it appears he’s also the type of personality to completely mismanage things and, as the end draws near, ensure that he’s sitting on top of the wreckage, laughing at those buried beneath him.

Unable to meaningfully articulate himself in person and unable to convince the world that his approval is worth pursuing he turned his hand to saving tech journalism by founding a tech blog site (The Kernel, now owned by Daily Dot Media) and not paying his journalists. In order to cement his understanding of journalism as nothing but a mechanism for his own self-aggrandizement he tweets things like this:

This tweet sort of encapsulates everything that’s wrong with Mr. Self-Centered. His definition of success in journalism is completely divorced from journalism, and calls to a meme we allow entertainers to play when dismissing their haters but doesn’t sit well on journalistic shoulders.

We let rock stars make these kinds of appeals to their material success to dismiss the nasty howl of critics because we expect them to be vapid. The loose construct of expectations we’ve woven around entertainers requires them to be rich and decadent and empty. They rarely stand for anything, and when they try to stand for something we are more often annoyed than inspired (with the exception of insipid, neoliberal millionaires, who seem to love the spectacle).

Let us also not let slide the fact that he is crowing about his personal pay rate after quite recently refusing to pay journalists working for him. That’s not exactly helping to fix the industry unless your only understanding of the industry is as a support mechanism for your own voice. This is clearly the stance Mr. “Journalist” has taken.

Actual journalists, on the other hand, have ideals and objectives beyond their own pockets, which Mr. Milo might know had he bothered to graduate either of the universities he attended. Though, knowing it, he would certainly dismiss it as Progressive twaddle. But don’t take my word for it. Let’s take a gander at what an actual journalist looks like, shall we? Peter Oborne, former Senior Writer at conservative British paper, The Telegraph, resigned recently because his paper suppressed, and in at least one case destroyed evidence in an investigation of, the banking giant HSBC in order to preserve their advertising dollars. There’s plenty more going on, but that’s the real BFD. He felt that the paper was no longer serving the purpose of journalism, informing the public. His idea of what journalism is wasn’t being served, and he ended up sacrificing his job because of it. First he tried to address the issue in good faith and then he quit. He’ll surely find a job somewhere else, but he stopped doing the job he clearly cares deeply about because he didn’t feel his employer was upholding the standards of journalism.

That, by the way, is what actual journalistic ethics issues look like. Grubbing around for who’s fucking who, as Gamer Gate is wont to do, is scoring points on technicality. The might get a memo from PC Gamer, and a little twitter storm to go along with, but in the end it’s a victory with no impact because nothing was at stake.

So, yes, Mr. Money Counter has failed in journalism because he doesn’t seem to be aware of journalism except in that he calls what he writes journalism, which makes for a small, sad universe, but apparently pays $3 a word. Mr. Howler Monkey is a pundit, not a journalist. (Please note that I am a blogger, not a journalist. I’m not claiming to be a better journalist, just capable of understanding standards not directly related to my personal worth.) His work currently appears on Breitbart, the dark mirror of the Huffington Post.

And yes, here it comes, the transition from gamer hating hipster to woman hating hipster (not that he didn’t hate women before). Some folks seem to think that Mr. Opportunist is just using Gamer Gate for his own purposes, like writing a book and gathering even more attention for himself (a thing he’s fond of charging others with while scrupulously expunging any vestige of alternate motivation from his own actions), but it’s not nearly as stupid or contrived as all that. Mr. Equal Opportunity is cunning, and I think he saw a spiritual home for his woman hating, aggressively anti-Progressive views that would provide him with an uncritical, vocal audience hungry for a token gay voice. It’s what he’s been grubbing around for his entire career. He gets lots of positive attention, and a conservative audience happy to hear his convoluted screeds about how modern, Progressive society is fucking over straight males. Plus he minimizes the fallout from the social media wars he clearly revels in because GG won’t fault him no matter what nasty shit he says.

No opportunism necessary. Mr. Flexible tries a few video games, reads a few comic books and replaces the names of tech startups he’s written about with video game titles, and he has the kind of niche issue he’s always been looking to become a token for. Gamer Gate gets a gay spokesperson who is professionally horrified at the idea of sex (His personal Twitter account, @caligula, is oddly unrepressed.), and so will never bother them by actually being gay, except for that glorious hair and the occasional plane ticket to buy a Mariah Carey album. Everybody wins.

Unless, of course, you start actually thinking about any of this. A movement ostensibly about bringing ethics to games journalism have chosen as a spokesperson someone who has no concern for ethics (unapologetically failing to pay journalists in his employ) and no understanding of journalism beyond his own personal pay rate. What Mr. WASP-ish Wit (yes, he’s Catholic. He used the phrase himself. No, it doesn’t actually make sense.) and Gamer Gate have in common is a conservative hatred of activism, a hatred of women, transpersons and people of color, hangups about sex and the worship of the stunted, fourteen year old male ego.

A movement that claims to want to remove politics from games and let the market operate freely have gathered around a spokesperson who has done very little with his career so far but be a political mouthpiece. Political differences are fine, of course. They happen whenever any group attempts to define itself beyond its most basic boundaries. What doesn’t work is one side trying to say that their position isn’t political at all. That’s just a big, nasty mess.

But let’s not get bogged down talking about groups. Back to our subject. I can’t call Mr. Milo stupid. He has the dead-eyed cunning of a carrion eater. I can’t even call him entirely amoral. He’s clearly committed himself to a moral and political universe that serves his self-interest not at all. How that sits with an apparently happy interracial gay relationship isn’t for me to speculate. Some tightropes have to be walked alone.

I can call him a smug, parasitic manipulator willing to claim that his $3 a word is a journalistic victory as opposed to a tragedy of marketing over substance though. So line up behind him. Fuel him with your clicks. Maybe he’ll make it to $4 a word, but he’s here for himself and his contorted politics, not games or anything else, which makes him a fine face for Gamer Gate’s hateful core. He’s the parasite they deserve!

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